tv Studio 1.0 Bloomberg April 19, 2015 10:00am-10:31am EDT
♪ emily chang: he has built some of the world's biggest pop stars. justin bieber, ariana grande, korean viral sensation psy, and "call me maybe" hit maker carly rae jepsen. it all started when scooter braun stumbled across a youtube video of a kid in a canadian talent show. that kid was justin bieber. and braun is the manager who catapulted him to superstardom. but as the music industry goes through dramatic transformation, braun is reinventing his own empire, producing movies and tv shows, investing in tech
companies like uber and pinterest, and looking for more stars he can make along the way. joining me today on "studio 1.0," rising every mogul, scooter braun. scooter, thank you for joining us. scooter braun: thanks for having me. emily: you were raised in connecticut. scooter: that is true. emily: the son of an orthodontist and a dentist. scooter: mm-hmm. emily: did you ever in a million years think you would be dominating pop music? scooter: i don't know even know if i am dominating pop music. i am just having a good time. yeah, when i was younger, i thought like every kid, i wanted to play in the nba, and no one told me i would grow up to be about 5'11" and not have the hops that i thought i was going to have. just kind of, one thing led to another. i read a couple of books that kind of inspired me and here i am. emily: what music was scooter braun listening to when he was 13-years-old? scooter: 13? that was my bar mitzvah circuit. "i like to move it, move it. i like to -- move it." that was a big one. i was a big michael jackson fan.
i love boyz ii men. but then i also love, like, biggie. i was the first kid in the suburbs to discover biggie. because i played in a basketball camp, my roommates were from harlem. they were like, "you don't know notorious?" and then i kind of went back to the suburbs with this mixtape, and then when it hit the radio four months later, i felt like i owned it. it kind of showed me, for the first time, the idea of self discovery of music. emily: can you sing? scooter: until about puberty. emily: can you dance? scooter: my first job ever was dancing at bar mitzvahs and weddings on the weekends for $150. emily: how about playing an instrument? scooter: my instrument was always, kind of, my ear. i knew what songs to play to make the audience move at the right time. emily: one of the values of your company is have a superhuman work ethic. what's the origin of that? scooter: i think originally it actually came from guilt. my grandparents were holocaust survivors, and my parents did not grow up with a lot, really nothing. knowing i was the first generation to have a little bit of something, i wanted to not receive anything and i wanted to work harder than everyone to make my own mark in the world.
emily: you went to college, but school did not really suit you, it seems. scooter: yeah, i went to emory university in atlanta. i just found myself wanting to do business, wanting to not sit in class. unfortunately, i started selling fake ids for about two months there. and then i realized i was going to get caught. i was really good though. it was impressive. emily: they worked? scooter: they worked. emily: you became a promoter, a party promoter when you were 19? scooter: yeah. i was throwing all the 21 up parties and i was 19. the reason i dropped out of school was there was a guidance counselor. and he sat me down and he told me the story of robert woodruff, the guy of coca-cola, the largest endowment at emory. i thought, this is great. he's telling me the story of an entrepreneur. he gets me. at the end, he looks at me and he goes, "you know why i told you that story? because robert woodruff was one in a billion and the chance of you being a robert woodruff is almost impossible. you need to stay in school and stop with this pipe dream." i said thank you very much. i think i understand now. and he goes, so we're cool? i said, yeah, i am dropping out of college. emily: do you think you proved
him wrong? scooter: i don't think he cares whether i prove him wrong. i think he's -- emily: do you care? scooter: no, because i want my kid to go to college some day. [laughter] it wasn't that. it was just i don't like the fact that he told me i shouldn't believe in my dream. while we are young, this is when we should take chances. emily: what was your dream? scooter: at the time, i just read a book about one of the founders of dreamworks, david geffen. and i kind of just wanted -- and i read another book about richard branson. but the truth is i just wanted to be an entrepreneur. emily: you became quite a celebrity on the atlanta hip-hop scene. ludacris and ceelo were going to your parties. you threw a party for britney spears. scooter: yeah, i was good. i was a good party promoter. [laughter] it got to a point where i was not just throwing their parties. they were all coming to mine. emily: so when did you get your first big break? scooter: it might have been jermaine dupri saying you're more than nightclubs and giving me an opportunity to work at so so def, because that opened up a whole world to me. but it could have been steve
rifkind who was the founder of loud records and src. he was the first person to give me a record deal for asher roth when no one would. emily: in the early days, how were you looking for talent? scooter: well, funny thing was, in the early days, everyone thinks that every act i have ever signed has just blown up because we have gone on a crazy run. but i signed a couple acts in atlanta where i had to learn the hard way. i failed. emily: there are myths about the greatest founders, the greatest entrepreneurs that are so often boiled down into legend. what is the myth of scooter braun and what is the reality? scooter: the myth is that i plug them into this machine. it is hard work. every single day is hard work. and i think there was a point in my career where, you know, i did such a good job where i went from being ok scooter, young entrepreneur to being justin bieber's manager. because i did a really good job, and so did he. i think the myth is that people think that success is this just beautiful glamorous fun thing. i get paid for the bull[beep]. i do everything else for free. the reality of me is i am a
♪ emily: justin bieber, psy, ariana grande, what is your secret? scooter: sometimes it is a gut thing, and i'm like, i know what that is, i know what to do. psy in korea does 80,000 people a night. the gangnam style was a phenomenon here, but the reason it worked so well is he can do it live so incredibly well. justin is one of the most talented people i have ever met. and he has so much pressure on him. growing up in front of the entire world. i think he is handling it fairly
well, and he will learn from his mistakes and become a better man for it. and ariana has one of the best voices i have ever heard in my entire life. emily: what is your management style? how are you different from other managers? scooter: i think my style is family. people say you should not mix business with pleasure, and i think that is bs. personally, i think that if you care about someone, you deeply care about them, you will stay up the extra hours to do something for them and vice versa. i have been called stupid by plenty of my mentors because they say, "look, you are too close." but i think it is better to feel than not feel. emily: how do you make sure some of these artists are not just a flash in the pan? scooter: my promise to every artist i manage is not that i will make you the biggest superstar in the world and you are going to have the longest career of all-time. i think that is a ridiculous thing to say to people. my promise is no what ifs. emily: ariana grande, for example, how much longevity does she have? scooter: she is an incredible young actress. and there are very few people on the planet who can sing like that. so i really think it is on her. she is 21-years-old now. as long as she keeps making the
right music, it can last forever. emily: carly rae jepsen, i mean, when i hear the song "call me maybe," i cannot stop singing it. scooter: happy. emily: but is she more than a one-hit wonder? scooter: well, technically, carly did "good time" too, which was three-times platinum. right there, i have already proven she is not a one-hit wonder. emily: ok, a two-hit wonder. scooter: i have heard the song that is coming next year. she has more. [laughter] emily: bieber heard her song on the radio, he brought it to you. you encouraged him to parody it with his friends. did you ever foresee how it would take off? scooter: yes. i am not going to lie to you, yes. i thought it was going to be a massive, massive hit the first time i heard it. it was like the first time i saw justin, i knew i could get him to being a worldwide known pop star. i just knew in my gut. it's hard to say it. it's like this gut thing. it is like falling in love. and with "call me maybe," it was one of those kind of "that's it!" moments. with gangham style, i heard "macarena" and "informer" combined. i was like, wait a second,
people are going to do this dance, they're going to go crazy, and kids don't know how to speak korean, are going to try and learn, you know -- [singing in korean] [laughter] no clue what they are saying. and that was that same effect. when i saw it, i instantly knew what it was. i called scott manson, who sent it to me, who works here. and i said find this guy. 60,000 views, find him, it is going to be a huge, huge hit. and three weeks later -- emily: you found him at 60,000 views? scooter: yeah, scott sent it to me at 60,000 views -- 66,000 views. emily: by the way, now over 2 billion. scooter: over 2 billion. everyone said the same thing. there is no way you are going to be able to make this record work. it's a korean pop song with a heavy-set korean guy dancing all over the place. emily: what happened when you saw the video of justin bieber? scooter: i saw a 12-year-old kid who had i think, like, eight videos at the time. six or eight videos? he was singing at a contest at a church. i was consulting for akon on a different artist. and i was watching youtube videos of that artist and
telling him what i thought of it. they were singing aretha franklin "respect." so in related videos, there was a kid in the distance, a little tiny thing, and i thought it was the same person. when i clicked on it, it was a 12-year-old kid. emily: so it was an accident? scooter: it was an accident. i stumbled on it. and my gut went crazy. and i watched another video and i watched another video. and then i saw him singing ne-yo, "so sick." and when i saw this little canadian kid with so much soul, i just knew there was something there. emily: you were the very first belieber. you flew his mom and him -- scooter: illegally, i think. emily: -- down to live next door to you. scooter: yeah, and they were not -- they were canadian. so i definitely brought them over illegally and kept them in the country illegally, put them in a townhouse around the corner from me in my name, so no one knew they were there. emily: you paid their bills. scooter: yeah, and got a tutor and did the whole thing and, kind of, they became like my family. it has been a rough year for me, watching him. [laughter] because i really care about him. you don't want to see anyone going through stuff. but to see him coming out on the other end of that right now and knowing the plans for next year
and the fact that, you know, he is a kid. i have had to learn that it's ok to let him step on that rake and let it hit him in the face. he has learned from those mistakes. and he will be a better man for it. he gets it. he said, "i went shopping in france, and all i wanted to do is walk down the street and just shop. i didn't want to bother anybody, i just want to shop. and there were 14 cameras around me and 200 people started surrounding. and i just came to terms with the fact with don't get angry, this is your life. and i am ok with it. there are blessings that come with this." and, you know, i think he has become a young man. i am proud of him. emily: what kind of advice are you giving him? scooter: through the last year, i would argue like hell with him. get in a huge, huge fight. i was frustrated. i didn't want to see him do stupid crap. now it's gotten to a point where, just a young man going through it, and it is what it is. emily: you see so many kids that can spiral out of control in hollywood. but how do you manage that as their manager? when you are dealing with teenagers? scooter: honestly, it is like
parenting. like, i've actually gotten the best advice not from other managers, but from my parents. when people go through stuff, you got to be a rock. you got to be solid. you can't be contradicting yourself. you know. you can't be a yes man. justin got discovered because people fell in love with the fact that he was just raw on the street, playing his guitar and singing his butt off. ♪
♪ emily: technology is changing. social media is moving so fast. scooter: yeah. emily: people can listen to music in so many different ways for free. how do you encourage your artists to change, to innovate in their own careers, to manage that transmission? scooter: i don't think you can fight the times. i think you just got to come to terms with the fact that album sales are never going to be what they were. but consuming of music is at an all-time high. you know, the sharing of music worldwide has never been this big before. so i think you just got to
change your perspective. if they listen to something on spotify, or they listen -- discover something on pandora, or they see a youtube clip of an artist singing and six months later that artist has their first record and they're there for that because they've been watching on vine or on instagram -- you know, any of these platforms. or they are discovering a fan club on follow, and they are becoming obsessed with it. i tell my artists, make music the people are going to love. make music that you love. be a great performer. do your job and be authentic about it. and the consumer will dictate, you know, what they want. my job is to make sure that, for my artist, that as many people turn their head and give them a shot as possible. so what i tell them is have fun. let me worry about it. emily: what are you worrying about? scooter: are we innovating? are we disrupting? and are we still waking up in the morning, every day, like i've always said, and saying, "ok, what cool [beep] can we do today?" emily: how do you disrupt on the back end? how are you promoting disruptively? scooter: i am using the new mediums that are being
presented. technology is creating new highways for us every single day. so i am figuring out what cars go down what highway. i am hiring young, smart, innovative people and saying teach me. it's just thinking outside the box. and when people say, "that's crazy," saying, "ok, good, now we found it." the moment somebody says that sounds crazy, usually i run in that direction. emily: you have been compared to lieutenant colonel parker, elvis presley's manager, who was criticized for being too controlling. how do you respond to the comparison? scooter: it is flattering to hear your name mentioned to legends and elvis anything. one, i never, ever, ever am going to take the commission that guy took. [laughter] so that is the first thing. emily: how do you structure the business relationships? scooter: well, i structure it fair. i structure it industry standard, and i try to over-deliver. and i try to do as many jobs as i can for the price of one, so that my artist doesn't have to go too many places, and there are not too many chefs in the kitchen. so i think maybe that might be where the criticism comes from, "oh, he's trying to control too much."
but what i am really trying to do is get as many jobs done in one place, so it's a one-stop shop. emily: so how can artists make money in unexpected ways, if not by selling albums? if not by touring? scooter: well, look, you can build brands, you can affect culture. i mean, jimmy iovine just showed it with beats. it was brilliant. he took all the culture that he affects with all the artists he had relationships with and he built, you know, this empire. emily: what do you think about apple buying beats and bringing dre and jimmy iovine on board? scooter: i will never bet against jimmy iovine. i don't know their exact plans. i'm not in there. i know eddy cue, i think he's brilliant at apple. and i met dre a couple of times, but i know jimmy. you don't bet against a guy like jimmy. emily: so what about apple? i know you are an investor in spotify, there's pandora. can apple dominate streaming? can they continue to dominate music? scooter: i don't know if it's domination. i think that there is enough room for all these platforms, because people want to consume constantly in different ways, and there's so much content coming. emily: you are also a tech
investor. scooter: yeah. emily: you have gotten into tech investing. you've invested in spotify, as i've said, uber, pinterest -- how are you getting into these deals? what attracted you to technology? scooter: because i missed one. when i was in college, facebook launched. and i actually e-mailed the creator of facebook, which was on the contact page. there was one profile per picture and responded with eduardo salverin, who was head of business affairs. "thank you for reaching out." i went back-and-forth with them for four months, saying, "i'm working at so so def, i love to throw parties, i'd love to be involved if there's a way, i could put money into the company." i didn't know what it was going to become. i said we should build this thing, what's facebook? oh, it's eight schools. i still have the e-mail that says, marcus decided to launch 36 more schools in two weeks. at this time, we're not bringing any investors in and we don't want to do a deal. [laughter] emily: now, you are making movies. scooter: yeah.
emily: "the giver." scooter: yeah. emily: "jem and the holograms." scooter: yeah! emily: you are making tv shows. how is that different from making music? scooter: my mom isn't very impressed with anything i do in music. but introducing my mom to meryl streep at the premier of "the giver," it's ok now that i dropped out of college. [laughter] emily: how about the tv show "scorpion." on cbs. actually, it is doing pretty well. scooter: come on, bring it back. team scorpion, one more time. [laughter] emily: good for you. scooter: monday nights at 9:00 on cbs. come on, one more time. no, it's -- look, that was -- scott manson, same guy who found psy? brought walter o'brien, the real walter o'brien, to meet me. scott brought him to the house and said that this is a crazy life story, you have to hear about this. maybe we can make do something in tv or film. we just went on this run together. and to see the success and how much people are loving the show, it has been so much fun. emily: tell me about ithaca. scooter: ooh, i never talk about this. i believe there is power in numbers and power in collaboration.
so i believe that managers and creatives and everyone should come together and work together in an alliance. and i put together a group of my friends, and it is simply that. it is just an alliance of guys who get together and meet and try and help each other build their businesses. because there is more than enough to go around. emily: so this is a fund. scooter: there is a fund aspect that i put together. that when we have ideas and we want to go after things together, we can. emily: what is the next big trend in music? what is coming? scooter: voices. that is what i am seeing right now. emily: you mean someone who can actually sing? scooter: i love the fact that i think everyone we have signed can really sing. you know, like, justin got discovered because people fell in love with the fact that he was just raw on the street playing his guitar and singing his butt off. emily: justin is one of very few, if not the only real star, who's come out of youtube. how much potential does youtube have to make more? scooter: when i did it with justin, there were so many people who said you cannot sign acts off youtube. and now if you ask any a&r at every record label about an artist, they say, well, send me a youtube link, i want to see
what he looks like with the visual. so i think it is happening over and over and over again. so i think we have lots of stars who have come from social media and we are going to have a lot more. because that is how people are discovering it. emily: philanthropy is very important to you and giving back. how do you integrate that in your work? scooter: every component of what we do, every aspect of what we do, has to have a charity involved. every dollar we make here has to have some kind of charitable component involved. with our shows, we try to give one dollar of every ticket sold to charity. and i have never had an artist say no to that. emily: you have been on so many lists. the "time" 100 most influential people. billboard 40 under 40. fast company's most creative people. how old are you? scooter: 33. emily: you are only 33. what's next for scooter braun? scooter: don't tell my clients i'm only 33 -- emily: got a few decades left. scooter: -- they told me i'm old. i think i am in the best phase of my life right now. i just got married. but i think over the next five to 10 years, my real priority beyond that is i want to build a family.
and i think that is something i am very proud of and more young people should see people in the entertainment industry that are successful and know that you don't have to give up everything to have that. emily: so you can't sing. scooter: yeah. emily: you can't dance. scooter: yeah. emily: you can't really play instruments. scooter: it is like a phil collins song. emily: but you can do some pretty good impressions. [laughter] presidents, i hear. president obama. scooter: my wife michelle, my daughters sasha and malia. i just want to say from my days in chicago, to my days in d.c., from the top to the bottom, we are going to bring it back, move it forward. we are going to create change, and we are going to bring it back again. god bless america. emily: bill clinton. scooter: you know, i just want to say that being a manager, justin bieber and ariana grande and all these young people, lord knows i've made mistakes, it's cool. it's cool. emily: scooter braun -- scooter: you rock. emily: -- thank you so much for joining us on this edition of
emily: he wrote one of the most famous lines in hollywood history. >> i want the truth. >> you can't handle the truth. emily: "a few good men" catapulted aaron sorkin from starving actor to celebrated screenwriter, producer, truth-teller, and conflicted character creator. he went on to bring us "the west wing," "moneyball," "the social network," and, most recently, "the newsroom" on hbo. with a steve jobs biopic coming soon. joining me today on "studio 1.0," emmy, golden globe, and academy award winner, aaron sorkin. aaron, thank you so much for being here.